It can be hard to review a band with over two decades and multiple studio albums behind them without resorting to the same old lines and descriptions. Yet with Six Feet Under preparing to release their newest album, Crypt of the Devil, we’re going to give it a go (Unsubtle Plug: Remember to read our interview with Chris Barnes here).
The traditional slower groove of Six Feet Under is present from the first track, Gruesome and it remains a constant throughout the album. It’s one of the hallmarks of the band, the unique selling point that separates them from the full speed multiple hundred BPM death metal bands on the market.
Open Coffin Orgy is a song I’m almost confident was written to encourage mass-windmilling/headbanging at festivals, it’s impossible not to react to the intro in the house let alone in a field full of fans. There’s also something oddly satisfying in a song with a title like Open Coffin Orgy having such a bouncy chorus.
The press release does say it is written from the perspective of a serial killer so in that regard it makes perfect sense for a dark subject to have an upbeat twist to it (don’t take upbeat to mean some sort of sudden power metal turn for the band, it’s still death metal through and through)
One of Crypt of the Devil’s strongest points is the guitar work. I want to mention the guitar solos briefly. Some people treat guitar solos in death metal as almost a joke, an excuse to play the E string as fast as possible until the vocals kick back in. With Six Feet Under’s groovier approach, the solos are slower, tuneful, and add something to the music rather than being just a mandatory part of the song writing process. They might not be Satriani-eque widdle-fests, but solos such as the one in Break the Cross in Half and Lost Remains are an excellent way to set yourself aside from the death metal pack.
Songs like Slit Wrists and Stab see the tempo brought up, but the ever present meaty groove is still strong (I’m going to finish this review without saying groove again). It might not be an album that has pits breaking out to every song, but with those slow chugging riffs locked in with the drums, it’s going to result in neck injuries for the entire crowd.
Barnes’ vocals nail the line between brutal yet clear and indistinguishable well. They aren’t so harsh that you can’t understand a single word, but not soft enough that you can follow each line. It means you don’t find yourself paying attention to the lyrics over melody, but there’s still enough so you don’t lose focus.
If you’re already a Six Feet Under fan, I’m prepared to say you’re definitely going to enjoy this (unless you’re one of those fuckers that thinks every band peaks at album three and everything else “isn’t as good as the old stuff”), if you’re new to the band this would also be a good starting point, it checks the boxes on what you want from a Six Feet Under album while also progressing their sound to the next level. Some of these songs are deserving of a permanent setlist spot, it just remains to see what makes the cut.
Crypt of the Devil is out 5th May 2015 via Metal Blade, click here to find the band on Facebook